Kentucky Derby Day, and the Great Lakes live card that evening

Great Lakes Downs, Muskegon, MI, May 4, 2002

A poem by by McChump Wordsmith Lazyfellow

Great Lakes Downs program 2002

    'Round the shores of Michi-Gumee,
'Round the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the racetrack of Frank Stronach,
King of Magna Ent., Frank Stronach.
Dark behind it rose the freeway,
Rose the black and gloomy pine trees,
Rose the barns, and an RV park.
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat six miles away more truly,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Some associated trip photos:
Indiana sights
Gld Paddock Gld Racing
Chicago sights

    There agent of fame and fortune
Lured bright-eyed McChumpawatha,
Lured him to this small-time racetrack,
Though it's close to big Chicago,
Great Lakes Downs is not a favorite;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
"Hush! the Racing Gods will hear thee!"
Lulled him into betting, singing,
"Ewa-yea! my little loser!
What is this that lights the TV?
With its big race lights the TV?
Ewa-yea! my little loser!"


    Many things that TV taught him
Of the stars that shine at Churchill;
Showed him War Emblem, the comet,
War Emblem with fiery tresses;
Showed the Death-Dance of his wagers,
Jockeys with their silks and war clubs,
Flailing there in losing efforts,
On sunny first May Saturday;
Showed the broad dirt track of Churchill,
Pathway of the ghosts, the legends,
Running straight across the heavens,
Crowded with the ghosts, the legends.

    At the door that pleasant evening,
Sat the little McChumpawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine trees,
Heard the lapping of the waters,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
"Make-up time, chump!" said the pine trees,
"Make-up time, chump!" said the water.

    Saw the lighthouse, NaNa-NaNa-HeyHeyHey,
Sitting in the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the tote and infield,
And he sang the song of losers,
Sang the song the racetrack taught him:
    "NaNa-NaNa-HeyHeyHey, little lighthouse,
    Little, cheesy, mini-golf lighthouse,
    Little, dancing, white-fire lighthouse,
    Light me with your little candle,
    Ere upon my bed I lay me,
    Ere in sleep I sleep a loser!"

    Saw the moon rise from the infield,
Rippling, rounding from the infield,
Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
Whispered, "What is that, old racetrack?"
And the good old racetrack answered:
"Once a bettor, very angry,
Seized his losers and he threw them
Up into the sky at midnight
Right against the moon he threw them.
'Tis the losers that you see there."

    Saw the bathroom on the concourse,
On the ground floor, filthy bathroom,
Whispered, "Why is that, old racetrack?"
And the good old racetrack answered:
"'Tis Magna flowers you see there;
All the filthy Magna bathrooms,
Fixtures out of order, broken,
When the earth may fade and perish,
That bathroom will still be filthy."

    When he heard the patrons mutter,
Hooting, howling, at the racetrack,
"What is that?" he cried in terror,
"What is that," he said, "Old Racetrack?"
And the good old racetrack answered.
"That is but the patrons whining,
Talking in their native language,
Talking, scolding: trashy concourse."

    Then the little McChumpawatha
Learned of every horse its language,
Learned their names and guessed their secrets,
How they'd run in last year's races,
Where they'd worked themselves in winter,
Talked with them whene'er he met them,
Called them "McChumpawatha's Follies."

    Of all these beasts he learned the pp's,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How the trainers did off layoffs.
Where the jockeys got their winners,
How the horsies ran so swiftly,
Why the bettor was so timid,
Talked with them whene'er he met them,
Called them "McChumpawatha's Prayers."

    Then McChump the great big boaster,
He the marvelous story-teller,
He the traveler and the talker,
He the friend of good old racetrack,
Made a bet for McChumpawatha;
From six horse race a tri he made,
One, two, three box made the wager,
Tipped with hope, and winged with prayers,
Logic made of desperation.

    Then said to McChumpawatha:
"Go, my son, to betting window,
Where the meek sheep herd together,
Kill for us a famous twelvespot,
Kill for us a tri most boldly!"

    Forth then to concourse straightaway
All alone walked McChumpawatha
Proudly, with his bucks and wallet;
And horses sang round him, o'er him
"Do not bet us, McChumpawatha!"
Sang the one horse, sang the two horse,
"Do not bet us, McChumpawatha!"

    And the three horse from his pathway
Leaped aside, and at a distance
Rocked upon his haunches,
Half in fear and half in frolic,
Saying to the little bettor,
"Do not bet me, McChumpawatha!"

    But he heeded not, nor heard them,
For his thoughts were with the cheap tri;
On its tracks his eyes were fastened,
Leading downward to the machine,
To machine next empty beer bottles,
And as one in slumber walked he.

    Hidden on the darkening apron,
There he waited till the race came,
Till he heard the start gates open,
Saw six horses sprint down backstretch,
Saw their nostrils point to windward,
And a horse came down the pathway,
Flecked with artificial light and shadow.
And his heart within him fluttered
Trembled like the leaves above him,
Like the birch-leaf palpitated,
As the race came down the pathway.

    Then, upon both feet uprising,
McChumpawatha punched his fists;
Scarce a twig moved with his motion,
Scarce a leaf was stirred or rustled,
But the cheap horses they darted,
Stamped with all their hoofs together,
Ran with bright shod feet uplifted,
Leaped as if to meet the wager;
Ah! the singing, make-up wager,
Like a wasp it buzzed, and stung them.

    Dead they lay there on the apron,
By the track next to the freeway;
The losers' bets that lived no longer;
But the heart of McChumpawatha
Throbbed and shouted and exulted,
As he bore winner window-ward.